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Kabul Criticizes Pakistani Politician Who Called Insurgency 'Jihad'

Afghan students in Herat pray for the early recovery of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, on October 13.
KABUL -- Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry has criticized a Pakistani politician who characterized the fighting in Afghanistan as a "jihad," or Islamic holy war.

Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaaf (Movement for Justice) party, said last week that "the people fighting against foreign occupation in Afghanistan are engaged in a jihad."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Musazai said on October 14 that Khan's comments were dangerous and shameful.

Musazai said the comments showed that Khan is "either dangerously uninformed or has bad intentions" about the fighting in Afghanistan.

Khan is among the top Pakistani political and religious leaders who received a letter from Afghan President Hamid Karzai on October 13 asking for help to battle extremism in both countries.

Karzai invited the Pakistani leaders "to help both countries take a coordinated, collaborative, and serious action with strong determination against terrorism and extremism."

Karzai was quoted as saying in the letter that the recent Taliban attack on a teenage peace campaigner in Pakistan showed that the countries in the region face a "dangerous enemy who seeks to doom the present and future of their people to darkness and ignorance."

The statement was issued as millions of students in Afghanistan prayed on October 13 for the recovery of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai.

She remains on a ventilator in a military hospital in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi after she was shot in the head and neck on October 9 by a gunman as she returned home from school in the northwestern Swat Valley.